Now that I got a bunch of pizza equipment for Christmas
I've made a few pies. Overall they were great, everyone was impressed. I did have a couple of problems though and since most of you know EVERYTHING, it's best to ask you for advice. I made 60% hydration doughs w/KA bread flour and ADY. I don't have a mixer so I had to hand mix and knead the dough. My cheese is 50/50 sliced part-skim and whole milk mozz. Here goes:
1. My cheese browns (and just starts to burn) before my crust chars nicely. This only happened on two out of the four pies I've made in two days; I'm thinking I put the cheese on a little too thick on those two.
2. My dough is weird. I don't think I'm kneading it enough. I followed Pete-zza's hand kneading instructions (I have no mixer). I put water in one bowl and yeast, salt and flour (I'm not using oil or sugar as I'm trying to make a Pepe's-like pie, very brittle and not sweet) in another. I mix the dry into the wet (w/o a rest period) until I get a scrappy ball of dough. I dump that onto a floured surface and knead away, but only for a couple minutes. My dough balls are still scrappy and ridge-y after kneading, but they hold together into a nicely formed ball. They are not slick or smooth at all. I'm pretty sure this is the problem. My crust ends up being rather flat and almost bread-y instead of fluffy, light and airy.
3. After I knead the dough I let it sit for 24 hours in an oiled bowl. Upon dumping it out onto a floured surface, it has cracks in it, like deep ridges. Sometimes the edge of the dough will be dry and a little hard. There are sometimes little dry spots on other parts of the dough too. I let it come to room temp for about an hour and then try to stretch it. Sometimes it has sticky spots and/or it fights back pretty badly. I can only get it into a weird semi-circular/rectangular shape instead of a nice circle.
4. I use semolina flour on the bottom of my peel/pizza. This works great and tastes good as well but I've found that after I pull out a pie quite a bit of the semolina is left on the stone in the oven. It'll then start burning (and smelling awful) after a couple minutes. I've had to open up the oven (and let out all my heat) to dust it off quickly with a dish rag so it doesn't burn into a charred, bad-tasting mess. Any way around this?
Thanks for any help!